I imagine for many of you, the reaction to Bryce Harper’s 13-year/$330 million agreement with the Phillies yesterday went something like this:
- Holy shit!
- The Phillies signed Bryce Harper!
- Holy shit.
- PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY, PHILLIES.
It’s an understandable reaction, given the team now fields one of, if not the most potent lineups in the National League and figures to often be appointment viewing this season after a seven-year hiatus from baseball and city-wide sports relevance.
I know. Such a hypothesis doesn’t exactly require me to go out on an unsteady limb here. Phillies fans’ insatiable appetite for all things Bryce Harper during their team’s prolonged 118-day free agency pursuit of the 26-year-old all-star seemed like a good predictor of rocketing ticket sales in the event he chose to play here. As it turns out, there now exists some strong data to quantify the excitement:
Before the Bryce Harper news broke yesterday, the #Phillies had sold roughly 200,000 more tickets than at this same point last year. They have sold about 100,000 tickets since, #Phillies senior VP of ticket operations John Weber said. Hard to say, but it might be a 1-day record.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 1, 2019
Is it about 40-homer potential and dumping one of the game’s elite left-handed hitters right in the middle of the lineup? Damn right it is. But it’s also about the marketing impact he brings. Therefore, it’s safe to assume the team will easily exceed its modest attendance totals of a season ago. The Phillies ranked 18th in MLB total attendance last season, drawing 2,158,124 fans through the gates. Whether or not the Phillies match or eclipse the MLB-best 45,441 fans per game mark set during the 2011 season remains to be seen, but the lesson here is simple. If you spend it, they will come.